The pandemic caused a lot of change. A big leap in digitization. We work more at home than ever, we order more than ever, we make video calls more than ever. And we’ve made a big leap in the way we’re organized and collaborate. We communicate in a different way, we are more agile and flexible. Next, we see different leadership, leadership at a distance, servant leadership. Let’s discuss our predictions.
The pandemic comes to an end this year. What kind of lessons do we take from the pandemic in the new year and beyond? What does 2021 have in store for us?
1. Not only leadership must change
Our first prediction is about leadership. Over the past few months, we have all heard stories from organizations that are visibly struggling with remote leadership. Neeley (2020) believes that management needs to change in order to successfully work from home. More effective management is needed to manage homeworking teams. This requires other qualities, qualities that can be summed up under the term remote leadership.
However, this is not easy to solve with training here and there. Ball (2020), however, touches on another point, besides the fact that leaders must be prepared for remote leadership, the organization must also allow this. As Neeley points out, trust and transparency are not subjects that a leader can achieve on his own. This requires a change of organization. This is the only way leaders can change.
2. Trust is key
Trust is the magic word if you want people to work effectively for your organization. But this is not for everyone as simple as it sounds. During this pandemic, we heard stories from organizations that asked their employees to call in at 9 o’clock and keep their cameras on at all times. This way the managers could see that they were still there. There was is software on the market for it. More poignant is the story of a lady who was reprimanded for being away from a little too long, to the manager’s liking. The manager was told just as clearly how it works when a woman has her period. Painfully…
These examples clearly show that trust must become the rule. Control leads to improvisation and bureaucracy, while trust leads to enthusiastic employees. So our prediction is that trust will become even more important!
3. Remote work = transparency
Gitlab is one of the most advanced examples where remote working is successful. However, they have barely changed their structure. They work in a traditional tree structure with teams with their own team leader. More eye-catching is the way they communicate. Transparency and openness are the core values of the organization. From salaries to short communication.
Zapier and Culture Amp are two more examples of organizations that have been working remotely since the early days. Here, too, transparency is a hot topic. They clearly indicate why this makes the organization successful. They too do not have an adapted structure but focus more on values than on culture. It is striking that they both come to the same conclusion. People who work remotely need more autonomy to be able to make their own decisions. According to them, this is a prerequisite for success. The prediction is that this will be demanded by employees, to help them to make decisions easier.
4. Working 100% at the office is no longer
The lockdowns, in whatever form or country, have had a big impact on how we work. Almost everyone was forced out of the office, working from home was the norm. A big impact, especially if you also have children who had to get an education at home, and for some, it was the loneliness. But also seeing your colleagues only through a screen. There were also a lot of things that worked well. No traffic jams are the most frequently mentioned. We thought this was so normal before the crisis, now it’s not.
At a number of large organizations, such as Google, their employees have indicated that they no longer need to come back to the office at all. The work can also be done from home, or they want a hybrid form. But either way, we can’t all just get in the car without thinking about it.
5. Remote recruitment is becoming more popular
Organizations have worked hard to get IT in order, so that everyone can work well from home. After more than a year of working from home, we are also used to Zooming, Teaming or Measuring with each other. When someone works remotely in a team, this is no longer looked upon strangely. This gives opportunities for the future.
In digitally demanding professions where there is a lot of scarcity, this gives a lot of opportunities. In IT, the scarcity is still enormous. We predict that now is the time to hire/hire people from other countries and have them work remotely.
6. Connecting becomes a real challenge
We may have seen them all once before. The online drinks, the digital escape rooms, pub quizzes, and all kinds of tastings. The possibilities are already running out. But the challenge of connectedness is not getting any less. Whether we continue to work fully digitally or hybrid. People lose connection with their team. Let alone the connection with other departments and organizational units.
As a team and organization, you have to work on connection and no longer see it as a given. One-off initiatives are no longer sufficient. Continuous discussion with each other about what is needed is important. Make connections between people, teams, and departments. Take care of the real deeper (but sometimes lighter) conversations, for example by check-ins.
7. Face to face training becomes a luxury product
In the course of 2020, more and more development offerings were transferred to online. From webinars to remote team workshops, from online academies to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course), a large part of personal and team development took place online. A lesson we keep hearing from organizations and people: So it is possible. Maybe not 100% as effective as offline but good enough and often with fewer travel costs and time.
Depending on the pandemic development we will certainly see face to face training and workshops again in 2021. But there will be more development online in the future. This will give a face to face sessions a more exclusive character and also work as an incentive as a kind of premium offer.